Sealing Your Records in Nevada
Any arrest automatically becomes part of the public record. In Nevada, that means that even if a court dismissed the charges, unless you have the records sealed, you still have a criminal record sitting in the Central Repository for Nevada Records of Criminal History. Any arrest equals a criminal record that will appear on a background check. This kind of thing could hurt your chances for getting a new place or that great job you wanted, so a criminal defense lawyer should be on your horizon.
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The economy is struggling. One of the few sectors that’s booming is the background check industry, and those databases will sum up your entire life in a few clicks online:
- Identifying information
- Felonies and misdemeanor
- Prior addresses
- Arrests and court warrants
- Federal and state tax liens
- Federal and state bankruptcies
- List of relatives
- Property ownership
- History of marriages and divorces
More than 800 occupations exclude allowing felons as candidates, and over 90% of employers are using background checks when hiring these days. The Department of Justice figures estimate that 30% of adult workers have a criminal record and that one in 13 adults has a felony conviction. It’s all too easy to find yourself among those who are denied employment, insurance, secondary education, loans, grants, licensing, volunteer opportunities or even a place to call home. In some states, individuals who have committed felonies may not be allowed to vote. Expunging or sealing records is no longer optional; it’s essential to your quality of life. One petition can change everything.
Expungement and Sealing the Records
Expungement is the process that allows you to erase your criminal history for a particular arrest from public access. Nevada uses the term “seal records.” While your records are not destroyed, they are gathered, secured and removed from publicly accessible databases. Once your records are expunged, no background check can reveal those sealed records. You will be able to address criminal history questions as though the event never happened. If regaining a clean slate sounds too good to be true, know that a formal process exists. If you were acquitted or your charges were dismissed/declined, the steps are a bit easier. Even if were convicted, you still may be able to seal the records and reclaim your life.
How You Can Seal Your Records
Whether your charges resulted in conviction or dismissal, the steps to expungement are similar under Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS):
179.245 for those convicted.
179.255 for those acquitted, dismissed or declined. Basically, you must follow five, possibly six, steps that revolve around a petition to the court to seal your records:
- You establish eligibility to file a petition.
- You submit the petition to the court.
- The court notifies the relevant prosecuting justice and law enforcement bodies.
- The court holds a hearing.
- The court issues an order.
- The court may inspect records.
Petition Eligibility to Seal Your Records
In our last blog, we went over the importance of expunging your records so that you do not hinder your success at securing employment, obtaining a home loan or any other effort you make to improve your situation.In order to determine if you are eligible to seal your records, you must first file a petition. Statutes of limitations, category of crime, mandatory waiting periods, interim criminal history and the nature of your criminal activity all play a role and can make each situation different. Nevada classifies crimes and convictions as felonies from A to E, gross misdemeanors or misdemeanors. Category A addresses the most serious felonies while misdemeanors cover the least serious infractions. Likewise, acquittals, dismissals and declined prosecutions differ in eligibility requirements, too.
For each category of crime, Nevada law requires a different mandatory waiting period that begins on the date you are released from custody, parole or probation, whichever occurs latest. If you were convicted of a Category A or B felony, you are eligible to petition after 15 years.
Category A crimes include:
- First and second degree murder
- First degree kidnapping
- Use of a child in pornography
- Sexual assault
Category B crimes include:
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Battery with intent to kill
- Home invasion
- Grand larceny
- Second degree kidnapping
- Possession of child pornography
For a Category C or D felony, you are eligible to petition after 12 years.
Category C crimes include:
- Stalking via the Internet or smart devices
- Violating a restraining order
- Buying or receiving stolen goods
- Third offenses of battery or domestic violence
Category D crimes include:
- Involuntary manslaughter
- Third degree arson
For a Category E felony, you are eligible to petition after 7 years.
Category E crimes include:
- Recruiting for a criminal gang
- Soliciting a child for prostitution
- Second offenses of peeping
For a gross misdemeanor, you are eligible to petition after 5 years.
Crimes classified as a gross misdemeanor include:
- Open or gross lewdness
- Carrying a concealed weapon
- Crimes against government property
- Some minor drug charges
Violation of NRS 484C.110 or 484C.120, other than felony or battery, you are eligible to petition after 7 years. These two statutes address the crime of driving a private or commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances.
For a misdemeanor, you are eligible to petition after 2 years.
- Assault or battery without a deadly weapon
- Driving under the influence
- Petty larceny or shoplifting
Dismissal and Acquittal Versus Declined and Eligibility
Whether the court dismissed the charges against you, declined to prosecute or acquitted you, a record is maintained of your arrest for the charge. Just as with convictions, the terms of eligibility differ among the three choices:
Dismissal or Acquittal. If the charge was dismissed or you were acquitted, you are eligible to petition the court immediately.
Declined. If the prosecution declined to prosecute the charge against you, the situation is a bit more complex. Sometimes, if the prosecution and defense can reach agreement, you may be able to petition to seal the records. Otherwise, you must wait 10 years from the date of the arrest or until the statute of limitations has expired.
Some convictions are not eligible for expungement due to the harmful nature of the crime. You will be unable to seal records if were convicted of:
- A crime against a child
- A sexual offense involving murder, molesting or seducing a minor, sexual battery or assault
- Administering a controlled substance to someone with intent to harm
- Abusing, luring or exploiting a child, including pornography and incest
- Open or gross lewdness or indecent exposure
- Sexual penetration of a dead human body
- A homicide or substantially harm to someone while you were operating any kind of motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any other controlled substance
Basically, if you were convicted of a crime that involved a child, sexual misconduct or harm to another person while you were under the influence of controlled substances, you most likely will never be eligible for expungement.
The Actual Petition
If you are eligible to file a petition, viewing the petition more like a package than a single document may be helpful since Nevada requires that you submit several pieces of information. The key is to always remember that all roads lead back to the original court where you were charged. The charge began there, and that is where it must end.
- Your petition must include the current, verified records for your charge from:
- The Central Repository for Nevada Records of Criminal History
- Any other criminal justice agencies that were involved in the charge and have records concerning it
- Also necessary is the disposition of the proceedings—that is, a statement of the verdict and sentence.
- If your charge was already sealed or the sentence was deferred, obtain a certificate of acknowledgment or disposition of proceedings from all agencies with records.
- Compose a list of any agency, company, official or other body that might hold records concerning the charge.
- A list that identifies the records to be sealed. This list must contain your:
- Date of birth.
- Specific conviction or charge.
- Date of arrest.
Once you’ve assembled all these documents, you can submit your petition to the court that charged you.
Once the court receives your petition, it will notify the original law enforcement agency that arrested you and will contact the appropriate prosecuting attorney.
The court will address your petition at a hearing. During the hearing, the prosecuting attorney and any other agencies or individuals with relevant records or information can testify and present evidence.
Usually if you have refrained from committing any additional offenses during the waiting period and you meet all eligibility requirements, the court will grant an order to seal your records. Under this order, any criminal justice agency (federal, state or local), company or individual holding records concerning your arrest must return the files to the court that originally charged you.
The order is like a giant eraser—almost. The court does not destroy the records, but the records are no longer accessible through ordinary means. More important, those records will not appear on a background check.
Declined? Not Quite Done—Inspection of Records
If you were arrested but the prosecuting attorney declined to prosecute, you can petition for and even obtain an order to seal your records. However, the prosecuting attorney will retain the right to file charges at any time within the statute of limitations for your original arrest. If the prosecuting attorney does file charges, the court will automatically examine, or inspect, the records.
The process of expunging or sealing your records in Nevada is a step-by-step process, yet the to-do list can be overwhelming. The electronic databases and the Internet can make one mistake immortal. Sealing records properly requires thoroughness, attention to detail and a familiarity with the judicial process and systems involved that only a criminal defense lawyer can provide. Statistics prove that you are not alone in needing to seal records documenting an unwise moment. With the help of Marchiano Law, however, you, too, can leave it all behind. Let us help you petition to get your life back.